Culture and Society

Synchrony in Outer Space

May 12, 2017

As we watch commercial companies launching (and landing) rockets even as NASA contemplates a Space Launch System that could get us to Mars, it’s worth considering just which future we’re going to see happen. In this essay, Nick Nielsen thinks about making the transition between an early spacefaring civilization to a truly system-wide space culture, […]

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Incentive Trap 2: Calculating Minimum Time to Arrival

May 9, 2017

When to launch a starship, given that improvements in technology could lead to a much faster ship passing yours enroute? As we saw yesterday, the problem has been attacked anew by René Heller (Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research), who re-examined a 2006 paper from Andrew Kennedy on the matter. Heller defines what he […]

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The Incentive Trap: When to Launch a Starship

May 8, 2017

Richard Trevithick’s name may not be widely known today, but he was an important figure in the history of transportation. A mining engineer from Cornwall, Trevithick (1771-1833) built the first high pressure steam engine, and was able to put it to work on a railway known as the Penydarren because it moved along the tramway […]

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Starship Congress 2017

May 4, 2017

I had thought at the end of last year that 2017 would be a year of few conferences held by the various interstellar organizations. In fact, the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop was the only one I was sure would occur, a meeting I knew about because it was being held in partnership with the Tau […]

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On Breakthrough Discuss

April 19, 2017

Although I hadn’t thought I would get a post off today, I do want to get this Breakthrough Initiatives news release out about the upcoming Breakthrough Discuss meeting. Pay particular attention to the online options for participating. BREAKTHROUGH INITIATIVES TO HOST WORLD-RENOWNED SCIENTISTS AND SCHOLARS IN SUMMIT ON LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE AND SPACE EXPLORATION […]

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Skyscraper in the Clouds

March 30, 2017

Analemma seems the perfect name for the proposed ‘floating’ space tower being discussed by the Clouds Architecture Office, an imaginative New York firm whose unusual designs include a Martian habitat made of ice and a concept study of flight into deep space using comets for resources. An analemma is a diagram that traces the movement […]

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Interstellar Conference News

February 21, 2017

Registration is now open for the 2017 Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, which will be held in Huntsville, AL on October 4-6. The title for this year’s conference is “Step By Step: Building a Ladder to the Stars.” The registration page is here, and if you’re thinking of attending, I recommend registering right away, as spaces […]

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A Contact between Civilizations in the 19th Century

January 27, 2017

When we contemplate contact scenarios between ourselves and extraterrestrial civilizations, we can profit from remembering our own history. The European arrival in the Americas is often a model, but there are other events of equal complexity. In the essay below, Michael Michaud looks at America’s encounter with Japan to examine how we might react to […]

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Loretta Jackson Delong (1948-2016)

December 7, 2016

I was saddened to learn through Tau Zero Foundation CEO Rhonda Stevenson of the recent death of Loretta Jackson Delong. Stevenson issued this statement The Tau Zero Foundation extends its sincerest condolences to Dan DeLong, the XCOR and Agile families for the great loss of Loretta Jackson Delong. She was a pioneer from the start, […]

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Visualizing the Alien: A Hollywood Conundrum

December 1, 2016

Aliens used to look more or less like humans in the films of the 1950s. Think Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), a polished alien presence if there ever was one. We got humanoid aliens with strange powers or technologies, like Jeff Morrow playing Exeter in This Island Earth (1955) — […]

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